Monday, January 15, 2018

Firefly Hat and Tie

My brother's birthday was in June last year. At the time, he was working in pest control, and I thought it would be fun to make him a bug-themed tie. Most of the fabrics I found were pretty juvenile, but eventually I came across this firefly fabric... it's stretching the theme a little, because fireflies aren't usually considered pests! But I ordered a chunk, and some coordinating orange cotton broadcloth. (And about a month later I found a perfect fly print, but it was too late!)

  Then I proceeded to make a tie! It took a lot longer to make than I expected, because it's almost entirely hand-stitched. 

  I used a free pattern from Purl Soho but I really don't recommend it- mainly because the tie stiffener, if cut according to the pattern, is both too narrow and too short. The tie itself is on the narrow and short side too, and the pieces don't fit together quite right, plus the sewing method adds unnecessary bulk. Next time I'll find an old tie to take apart and make a pattern.

  I added one of my labels to keep the tail of the tie in place, but it pulled the tie a bit at the sides and formed a slight indent- and when I tried to sew it more loosely it bubbled away from the tie It probably wouldn't have been a problem if I'd interfaced the main fabric but since it's a pretty thick quilting cotton I skipped that.

 The tail barely fits in the label anyway, so next time I would just leave it off.

  Anyway, even though I wasn't delighted with the pattern or the addition of the label, I think it turned out okay!

  Then for my nephew, the same brother's son, and whose birthday is also in June, I decided to use the same fabrics and make a bucket hat:

  This is also a free pattern, from Oliver + S, and is a beautiful contrast to the tie pattern. The pieces are well-shaped, the instructions are professional, and everything fit together perfectly!  

  I decided to make the orange side the lining, and added a label, but the hat is normally reversible.

  I admit to being a bit tired of hand-stitching at this point, so instead of hand-stitching the lining crown down, I stuck it down with wash-away wonder-tape and top-stitched from the outside. It's not as neat as hand-stitching it would have been, but definitely faster.

  I used red thread for the top-stitching, and I love how it looks:

  I like how the seam allowance at the top of the hat is edge-stitched to the sides- it really helps keep everything neat!

  I'm really happy with how the hat turned out, and am definitely planning to make another at some point! My daughters were pretty impressed too, but since they have a small box stuffed with hats that they almost never wear, it will more likely be for another niece or nephew than for them! 

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Canvas Lettered Art

  Here's a gift I made for my sister-in-law's June birthday!

  I knew I wanted to do some kind of painting for her, and eventually settled on lettering Joshua 24:15. I wanted it to last so I used acrylic paints and a canvas board. This is the largest lettering piece I've done so far- I believe the board was 11" by 14"

  I sketched out my design on plain paper first, painted the canvas tan, then transferred my design with tracing paper. The stuff I used is Singer brand, and is meant for sewing- I looked in the stores for carbon paper but couldn't find any. And the sewing stuff didn't leave a very clear mark, so I had to go back over it in pencil.

  I chose the colors and style based on things I've seen this sister-in-law wearing, and a couple of glimpses I saw of her house on social media (I haven't seen it in person) so I'm really not sure if it fit her decorating style or not, but she seemed to like it! 

  I had totally finished the painting in solid colors, but when I stepped back they looked incredibly dull together. So, I took some gold acrylic paint I had on hand (Ceramcoat glitter gold- and the rest of the paints were DecoArt) and went back over all of the brown with a thin, rustic layer, and it really helped to brighten everything up. 

  It does shine from an angle, but it's not noticeably metallic from straight ahead, which is what I wanted for this piece.

I happened across the frame at Joann's and just left the glass out so the canvas would fit- I'm glad I found it!

  I find it really difficult to letter prettily with acrylic on canvas, but I think this turned out okay anyway!

  I'm hoping I get some more practice working with acrylic paints in the coming year- speaking of which, Happy New Year!

Thanks for stopping by,

PS. I totally forgot to share the photo of how I wrapped this one... I love the wax seal trend that I've been seeing!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Art Gallery Dress

My sweet, shy, and sassy Beckers turned 4 in August! I made eyelet dresses for both of her big sisters' 4th birthdays, but they just weren't worn as often as I would have preferred, so I decided to go a different route for Becker's dress. Twirly dresses are always a favorite, and so is knit, so that's what I went with!

  I'd bought a single yard of an Art Gallery knit to test out from Imagine Gnats on Black Friday last year- the Sprinkled Peony Serene from the Garden Dreams collection, and 1.5 yards of the solid knit in 'Tender Green' to go with it, and when I searched my shelves for just the right fabric for Becker's dress, these two were perfect! Like everyone says, Art Gallery knits are really nice- not quite as thick as I prefer, but really soft and stretchy, and they've worn really well. (Although my solid had a small flaw in it that I didn't notice until I'd cut my pieces, and I didn't have enough to re-cut.)

  I was originally planning to make the entire skirt out of the print, but 1 yard just isn't enough for a full circle skirt on this lanky little girl, so I had to add length with the solid. And the solid wasn't a perfect match for the background of the print, but I had a few yards of dark magenta knit from Nick of Time Textiles that made gorgeous flat piping. I really love the effect- I'm so glad I didn't have enough of the print!

 I also used strips of the magenta between the skirt and bodice, and around the collar, as well as making the neckband and sleeves from it. I decided to do a neckband as well as a collar because my attempts at collars on knits haven't gone well in the past... I don't love the look, but it is an improvement over previous attempts. I really wish I'd interfaced that collar though!

  I gathered the sleeves to bands- also a change for me, since I usually lettuce-edge them and gather them in with elastic thread. But I wanted a bit more of the magenta in there. =)

  The pattern is a very modified Jalie 2805... it's often much quicker to just modify a basic pattern like that to match the idea in my head than to search for a new one!

Beckers loved this dress! And still wears it every time it's clean, even after staining the bodice with dry-erase markers. (I really dislike dry-erase markers- we've lost quite a few garments to them, and all of my attempts at stain removal have been for naught.)

  Beckers is such a fascinating little girl- she's a perfect mixture of sweetness and sass, and has some pretty strange ideas sometimes. She's so enthusiastic that sometimes I forget how shy she can be, and how much she loves her alone time, and just how many hugs she really requires.

  She's been listening while I've been teaching her sisters, and it's amazing sometimes just how quickly she picks things up- like memorizing a poem that her sister was working on, when it looked like she was totally engrossed in drawing! But she can also forget the name of something 20 times in as many minutes.

  Beckers and Foof are best frenemies, sometimes traipsing all around the house hand-in-hand while playing pretend, sometimes fighting like cats! But always giving each other the sweetest hugs and saying, "I'm sorry," when reprimanded.

  And oh, Beckers has such an imagination! She's always telling stories and playing pretend, and just generally dreaming up new things.

  She's a very active little girl, and loves to come up with new 'exercises' to show me. She taught herself how to do a headstand (against a wall, or very briefly in the middle of the room) this year, and it seems like she's upside-down every time I turn around!

  We just love this mischievous, adorable, wonderful, little girl!

  Beckers begged for a party this year, so we planned to meet some family at the park a few days after her birthday, and I was supposed to bring cupcakes, but I also wanted cake for her actual birthday. So I tried something new and made ice cream cake! It has three layers of homemade ice cream- chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla- on top of a chocolate cookie base (that I definitely overcooked and that was quite the job to saw through once frozen!) all covered with semisweet ganache, then decorated with swirls of whipped cream and chocolate-covered almonds.

  Beautiful and delicious!

  Although again, seriously difficult to cut! This was the prettiest slice I managed:

  I'll do something else for the crust next time, but will definitely make ice cream cake again. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Bear Backpack

Have you seen this unicorn backpack from Sew Much Ado? I came across it earlier this year, and I kept coming back to the idea of a simple animal face backpack for my nephew's 2nd birthday. He was a roly-poly, adorable baby, and everyone said he was just like a teddy bear, so that's what I went with:

  I followed the general method shown in the tutorial from Sew Much Ado, but came up with my own pattern pieces, sized to fit a two-year-old. I had the two corduroys on hand already, the tan leftover from Christmas dresses last year, and the brown from when I was trying to find a good match for the plaid of those same dresses. I decided to use a zipper I had on hand too, but I wish I'd bought a longer one as the opening is a bit on the small side this way:

  I used some buttons I had on hand (I see a theme emerging) for the eyes:

  For the nose, I used a scrap of black leather (also on hand...). I was worried about damaging the muzzle with a leather needle, so I just used the leather needle and no thread to pre-punch holes on the leather only, then hand-turned the wheel with a regular needle to sew into those holes.

  I embroidered the mouth with six strands of black floss and a backstitch:

  I didn't feel like I'd have time to hand-stitch the muzzle on, and wasn't sure it would be sturdy enough if I did anyway, so I did a 'cheater' stitch and used that as a guide for pressing the seam allowances under, then edge-stitched the muzzle onto my interfaced and flex-foamed main face portion. I was really happy with how well that worked!

  I did the ears the same way, but didn't include flex foam in them because I didn't want them to end up bulky.  I top-stitched around the outer edge of the ears before sewing them to the main backpack, to give them a bit more rigidity. I shaped the ears so the base has the same curve as the top of the head when upright, but sewing the opposing curves with the foam in the main was pretty difficult, and I ended up with a couple of puckers.

  The fusible flex foam was easier to work with than I'd expected, once I figured out which needle to use to prevent skipped stitches, and my only issue with it is all the wrinkles in the backpack from turning it right side out. No amount of pressing removed them... possibly a wash and tumble dry would have, but I wasn't willing to risk making it worse! The flex foam was pretty expensive, but this backpack didn't use much- definitely less than a yard!

  The straps though... those were a bugger to sew, with all the layers of corduroy and interfacing. The length of the straps went decently, but my machine just didn't want to deal with the bulk when attaching the sliders, and I broke several needles there:

  The sliders were another on-hand item... I bought these years ago, intending to make a purse for myself, and never got around to it!

  I didn't have rectangle rings to match, and couldn't find any in the right width or color when I was buying the fusible flex foam, so I used some o-rings instead:

    These lower attachment points were also a pain to sew in this fabric. I might try hammering them next time to see if it helps cut down on the bulk at all.

  The whole back:

  I used some fabric leftover from backing this quilt as the lining, and sewed in a tag. I didn't really like how the lining hung down from the zipper inside... I think some piping or interfacing on the inside to give it structure would have helped.

  Once it was all done I had to try it on my own toddler!

  I think I would bring the straps closer together at the top next time, but my nephew has slightly broader shoulders than Foof so it worked a bit better for him, and hopefully will grow with him a bit.

  Foof was reluctant to take it off- I think my little adventurer could use her own backpack. ;-)

   Isn't that adorable though?! I'm so happy with how this turned out!

Thanks for stopping by,